In an earlier post, I noted that the President increased his relative share of the popular vote between 2000 and 2004 in 35 out of the 51 electoral contests. For example, he ran better in New York against Kerry by about 7 percentage points compared to how he ran against Gore. I hypothesized that the Bush-Cheney campaign actively sought a better showing the popular vote, in addition to a majority of the electoral college.
Via Powerline, I see that Patrick Ruffini has returned to his blog after being the Bush-Cheney '04 webmaster. His post today is excellent reading on how the popular vote shifted in many areas that would surprise the casual observer. This map shows, on a county-by-county basis, where the President improved his popular vote showing. As Patrick writes:
While not enough to shift any states into the Bush column, President Bush’s marked improvement along the Northeast Corridor lays a strong foundation for their return, one or two elections hence, into full-fledged battleground status. This development also lays waste to the notion of evangelical “values voters” being solely responsible for the President’s popular vote margin.
The key question for the Democrats is whether they understand this point--that they cannot ascribe their electoral failure in 2004 to only a set of "values voters." They should be thinking more broadly about where they lost ground.
Patrick also links to a very informative post by Robert David Sullivan, who has devised a map of the U.S. with 10 political regions of roughly equal population. It is the best commentary on the 2004 election (based on changes since 2000) that I have seen and offers interesting suggestions about where each party might look to gain ground in the 2008 campaign.